As the new year starts up, many individuals plan out new year's resolutions that they’ll keep up for a month if they’re dedicated. These resolutions would have a significant positive impact on the individual and their life if they were kept for more than a few weeks. Unfortunately, many people never see the end results of their resolutions, as many never make it to the end.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a new year’s resolution that was easy to keep, not because of simplicity but because it rewards you day in and day out? A resolution that not only grows you as a person but your organization as well. But what kind of a resolution could be so amazing and rewarding?
How about a new approach to leadership. Although we are taught new approaches to leadership and to think outside the box when it comes to management year in and year out, many managers and leaders are still stuck in the old routine of distant hierarchy management. Whether it be in business, school, sports, or even community projects, we see time and time again a pattern of the supposed “leader” distancing themselves from those that have a specific duty to. It’s time to leave this approach to leadership in 2017 and move forward to a more efficient form of leadership in 2018 and beyond.
The best term to use to describe this newer form of leadership that we should be adopting is approachable. Employees, athletes, students and beyond should feel comfortable approaching the leader regarding nearly any issue. They should feel that the leader is there to help them and not reprimand them. They should feel that the leader is going to be kind and understanding and is looking to produce the best outcome. In short, leaders should encourage those they are leading to approach them regarding most questions and issues.
If you’re a leader, how do you make yourself approachable? How do you get others comfortable with discussing nearly anything with you? A great start is by initiating conversation. Start talking to those you’re leading; ask them how their day is, how the family is doing if work is going well for them. Is this small talk? Usually, yes. But it’s very effective in breaking down the first wall between the leader and the lead. It sends a message that you’re human and are comfortable with a discussion with others.Another great start is to change your response to negative news. One of the most common fears among people is that those they are delivering the negative news to are going to become irate and difficult. Whether it be an employee having to tell a manager that they broke a machine or a student having to tell a teacher that they are going to have to miss afternoon class for a basketball game, fear runs through everybody that has to be the bearer of bad news. But as a leader, you can break down that fear. By controlling your anger and looking to fix the situation instead of punishing somebody, you not only fix the situation more efficiently, you also make yourself more approachable and easier to work with. The employee that broke the machine? Let’s work on getting it repaired quickly. The student that has to miss class for a basketball game? Let’s make sure he still learns the material despite his absence.
We discussed initiating conversation earlier, however, we can take a step beyond this. Leaders that initiate conversation when they know that something is wrong are known as good leaders. If you know that your employee is distraught over something, why wait until they approach you to talk about it? Approach them in a way that reflects your willingness to help and support that employee. Ask them if anything is wrong if they are struggling with an issue, what you can do to help them professionally. This indicates that you are concerned about the well being of those you are leading, making you that more approachable.
Through these tips that I have been providing, there has been a consistent theme: being genuinely interested in those you are leading. If you do just that, you won’t have to focus on actions and techniques that make you more approachable. You will be naturally approachable, a trait that makes any leader a great leader.